For coffee aficionados, there is nothing more satisfying than enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee after getting out of bed, or any other time of the day for that matter. In fact, it’s hard to imagine getting through the day without coffee.
Unfortunately, ground coffee has a very short shelf life, and coffee brewed using stale ground coffee can mess up an entire day. Don't get me wrong, stale coffee is unpleasant, but it can't make you sick. The only problem is that it can't deliver the caffeine kick all coffee lovers yearn for every day.
So whether you grind the coffee beans at home or purchase pre-ground ones, you need your favorite beverage fresh and delicious. And if you always store some ground beans in your kitchen, you may be wondering how long they will stay fresh.
If you want to know how long does ground coffee last, please read on…
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
Generally, coffee beans don't expire like the other beverages and foods in your kitchen. In fact, if you search for the expiration date on its packaging, you may not find it. Instead, what you will find is the "best before" or "best by" dates. This means that if you use coffee beans past their best by date, you may not get a fresh cup of coffee.
Coffee beans can stay fresh for a very long time, but as soon as they are roasted, these beans start losing their freshness. And once you grind them, then they get an even shorter shelf life of about 20 minutes. Therefore, if you want a cup of fresh, flavorful coffee, you have to brew your beverage within 20 minutes of grinding the beans.
But this doesn't mean that the ground coffee will become unsafe to use or that it will spoil after 20 minutes. Basically, ground coffee can stay fresh for years if it's stored correctly, although the longer you keep it, the less flavorful it becomes.
How Long Does Pre-Ground Coffee Last?
If you love pre-ground coffee, then you're in luck, as it can last for a long time. Pre-ground coffee lasts for more than a year, provided it remains in an unopened bag. But once the bag is opened, it will retain a decent amount of flavor for up to 14 days. And for it to keep most of its flavor for two weeks, you have to store it in an air-tight glass jar.
What Happens to Coffee After It’s Ground?
It's a known fact that coffee beans stay fresh longer than ground coffee, and that is because of the degassing process. When the roasting process starts, the beans emit a huge percentage of their carbon dioxide, and oxygen gets in and mixes with the beans' oil. The oxidation process breaks down the coffee flavor and freshness.
When you grind the roasted beans into smaller pieces, the surface of the coffee becomes porous. This increases the surface area-to-volume ratio of the coffee. And this increases the velocity of the degassing process. The rate at which oxygen replaces carbon dioxide in the ground coffee increases, which causes the coffee to become stale faster.
Some of the pre-ground coffee products are usually past the degassing stage, and that is because they are roasted perfectly before being ground and packaged. Therefore they can last longer in air-tight packaging.
How Can I Keep My Coffee Fresh for a Long Period?
As coffee lovers, we can't imagine not having a fresh coffee in the house when the mood strikes. But keeping the ground coffee fresh for an extended period is an issue for most people. So we have prepared the following tips to help you extend the shelf life of your coffee:
1. Ground Beans or Whole Beans
One of the most convenient methods for brewing coffee at home is using pre-ground coffee. It can save you time in the morning since all you have to do is pull out the ready-to-brew ground bag and brew. Unfortunately, ground coffee loses its freshness and flavor at a very fast rate.
On the other hand, whole beans can retain their aroma for a very long time, provided they are stored correctly. Therefore, you can purchase large quantities of roasted coffee beans and store them in huge air-tight containers.
Whole beans will require you to do some extra work every morning. You will also have to learn how to grind them perfectly before brewing. So, if you want fresh coffee beans every morning, you can opt for whole coffee beans instead of pre-ground.
2. Store Coffee Correctly
Some of the biggest enemies of the freshness and flavor of coffee are moisture, air, and heat. Pre-ground coffee has to be stored the right way after the pack is opened. So make sure you store it in a dry, cool place like a vacuum or air-tight bag, or glass jar.
On the other hand, coffee beans are unique and can last longer than ground coffee. Unfortunately, light can also affect them, so make sure you store them in an opaque container. Light can compromise the final taste of your favorite beverage.
If you want to prolong the shelf life of your ground coffee, check out these tips on how to store ground coffee.
3. Go for Unroasted Beans
Coffee beans start losing their freshness as soon as they are roasted. If you have the required roasting skills, go ahead and buy green coffee beans and roast them in small batches. But if you do this, you should be ready to grind the roasted beans every morning or whenever you’re craving coffee. You can store the coffee beans in an air-tight, opaque container if you want them to stay fresh for more than two weeks.
Coffee doesn't expire, but it does go stale and lose its freshness if not stored correctly. Ground coffee must be brewed within 20 minutes after grinding if you want a flavorful drink.
On the other hand, pre-ground coffee can last for about two weeks after the packaging is opened. Your best option is to use whole beans, and even better, use unroasted beans. If you’re not up to the challenge of extra work of roasting and grinding, the tips mentioned above will ensure that you enjoy fresh and flavorful coffee longer than expected.